Pastor Steve Ellison: Who Can Understand It?

Pastor Steve Ellison

Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The way he does that is through false teachers.

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and his emissaries disguise themselves as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14). Perhaps you have noticed the vast abundance of false teachers in the world today. Few people recognize them.

Pastor Steve Ellison

The most dangerous false teachers, those who do the most damage to the Church and to the culture, are those who repeat sweet-sounding platitudes that may or may not have a small kernel of truth.

The most popular devotional blogs and books are popular because they are careful to never point out enough truth to hurt the reader’s feelings. They all seem to regurgitate virtually the same idea: no matter the circumstances, it can’t be your fault, and God has something better in store for you right around the next corner, without any consideration of gross sin in your life.

Jeremiah 17:5-6 contains a very blunt truth, Thus says the Lord, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 "For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. (NASU)

Trusting in man to the point of turning your heart away from the Lord will get you cursed.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 contains a similarly blunt but contrasting truth, Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. 8 "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. (NASU)

The one who trusts in the Lord will be fruitful, though I would be careful about claiming that means wealthy and healthy. I rather take that to mean fruitful in the work of the kingdom of God.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 seems to come of nowhere and drops a hammer on the reader, The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. (NASU)

It is a dangerous thing indeed for me to choose a devotional book and think that I will wisely choose one that will speak hard truth to me in my sin and rebellion. My heart is “more deceitful than all else and desperately sick.” That is no doubt an accurate assessment of my heart, but not one that I naturally gravitate toward. 

Most of us seek something that will make us smile and feel good about ourselves in our current sorry state. We seek out what will make us think we are good when we are not. Perhaps we would be wise to reconsider verse five above.

There is a good possibility that the most dangerous way I can trust in mankind is to trust my own heart. Perhaps the most dangerous way that I can make flesh my strength is to trust my own heart. Certainly, my heart has a propensity to turn away from the Lord by turning to my own desires.

So, you see verses 9-10 do not come out of nowhere. They are right in context and drive the right point right into my heart.